I feel I need to at least weigh in on this subject without overstating my case, or trying to develop a long complex post, so here’s my two cents. Arizona is wrong.
The law, signed last week by Gov. Jan Brewer, makes it a state crime to be in Arizona illegally and requires police to check suspects for immigration paperwork. It also bars people from soliciting work or hiring day laborers off the street.
“What I think is a mistake is when we start having local law enforcement officials empowered to stop people on the suspicion that they may be undocumented workers …” the president said. Such hard-line remedies are an affront to the nation’s values, he said.
As an American I can understand the desire for fiscal responsibility and for fair immigration. It’s not right that people don’t play by the rules to properly emigrate from their countries and repatriate here, however, allowing local law enforcement to harass anyone on suspicion of “looking illegal” is highly problematic.
I’m the child of immigrant parents, and immigration has always been a touchy and personal subject for me. However, here’s what I see needs to happen:
1. There needs to be a way to limit benefits allotted to persons without documentation without infringing on the civil liberties that we as a country seek to provide for all peoples, foreign and domestic. We cannot treat them as non-humans and round them up and throw them into camps, that’s not the solution.
2. There needs to be a way for this country to allow for integration that is fiscally responsible even with an upsurge of illegally entering immigrants.
3. Putting local law enforcement in the position of immigration authority means taking away from other imperative tasks and if quotas are set in place, this could get ugly, and become like a concentration camp round up. Even if we only ship people back to other countries where they came from, immigration is a much larger issue than just Mexican and Hispanic border crossings, it means people from all over the world, Asian, African and even Eastern European immigrants, and if this becomes a “mexican roundup” it could be highly controversial on a national and international scale.
Here’s my take as a Christian pastor, thinker and American citizen on a practical response.
1. Governments will do what governments will do, and the task of the Church is not to ignore injustice, but make do in the meantime until as our society allows, we can get things changed.
2. Dare to imagine and live in a world without borders. That’s what new creation is all about among other things. New creation is about the restoration of justice and that means a world where there’s really no separation, truly no racism and a step beyond white elitism.
I ask Christians to consider their world, their lives, and their neighbors and act according to Christian charity. You cannot be a Christian and turn away those in need, there’s simply no getting around it. If you would support this bill, I expect you to help connect these people with proper resources for proper immigration, food and shelther and political amnesty in your home in the meantime. If you oppose this bill, I expect the same.
The thing is, laws change, but Christian charity takes a special attention for the poor, the outcast and the abandoned. If it is the illegal immigrants who are poor outcast and abandoned, let us care for them with the same care that Christ has for the church. If we want to be good Christians, we cannot do anything less than this.
3. New creation means a world restored, and if we truly believe that, we will live as though borders and national identities are not final, and we will extend the arm of fellowship to all those who would ask for our assistance. “If you are sued for your coat, give them your tunic also,” If we are asked to provide amnesty and food and shelter, let us provide schooling, opportunity and the love of Christ also.
Arizona residents who are Christians should be sheltering immigrants and the less fortunate, protecting them and providing for them, as churches, and as families. We cannot claim to believe in a world restored if we go about as if that restoration has no place in the present.